Duncan Boothby submitted his letter of resignation to the International Security and Assistance Force in Kabul early Tuesday morning. The civilian senior adviser played a critical role in arranging the interview Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings conducted with McChrystal, America’s top commander in Afghanistan, and his staff.
In the magazine story, “The Runaway General,” McChrystal and members of his staff were highly critical of President Obama and his key military aides in Washington. The president has ordered McChrystal to meet with him in Washington on Wednesday, and there is widespread speculation that he will be severely reprimanded or even relieved of duty for his remarks, which many observers say amount to insubordination.
Boothby’s resignation, which came after McChrystal apologized “for using poor judgment” in the interview, puts a spotlight not only on himself but on the “new media types” the military is employing to serve as key media advisers to America’s top brass. Before managing McChrystal, Boothby was a key media adviser to Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, who headed the Combined Arms Center (CAC) in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
While at the CAC, Caldwell became a proponent of using "new media" to communicate with targeted audiences, and he began collecting civilian public affairs specialists, including Boothby, to expand the work of the military's rigid public affairs system and to maximize the "strategic impact of new media" through a program called CAC Stratcomms. "He wanted to use media as a weapon," one officer explained.